"A human being is a part of the whole called by us 'Universe', a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest. - A kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty." -- Albert Einstein
Columnist and conservative speechwriter William Safire died yesterday at age 79. Here is the speech he drafted for president Nixon to read in the event that Apollo 11 astronauts Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong found themselves stranded to die on the moon. I am happy to note that Messrs. Aldrin and Armstrong are all still alive (as is Michael Collins, who orbited the moon while his colleagues walked on her surface). William Safire's Finest Speech. (Gawker, via Scott Beale)
More bad news for the dollar. The head of the World Bank says the importance of American currency will continue to diminish in relation to the euro and the Chinese renminbi.
"The United States would be mistaken to take for granted the dollar's place as the world's predominant reserve currency," the World Bank president, Robert B. Zoellick, said in a speech at the School for Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins. "Looking forward, there will increasingly be other options to the dollar."
Former BB guestblogger and Japan-based blogger Danny Choo has a neat post up with snapshots from Japanese festivals, shot with a Lumix. Above, one of the game/contest stalls alongside one ceremonial observance. "Kingyo Sukui is where folks try to nab as many goldfish as possible from the tub with a single hoop of thin paper."
Another photo in the gallery shows Sesame Street character dolls on display at a festival vendor stall. Danny jokes that Sesame Street looks a li'l different over there. You have to watch the video clip after the jump to appreciate just how different: now, I'm very ignorant about Japanese media culture, but am guessing that this is a spoof on a comedy show or something.
Like AYDS and Beaver College, the WTF (Wisconsin Tourism Federation) got tired of being the butt of jokes and changed its name to the Tourism Federation of Wisconsin. That's too fucking weird, if you ask me.
Laura says: "I came across this post where this teacher compares the disappearance of public drinking fountains and the rise of bottled water to the rise in popularity of charter schools."
Public water fountains are not dangerous (unless cooties are real). Tap water is safe, and the spigots are designed to prevent contamination.
The rise of bottled water here in the States shows how a public institution can be demonized and replaced by a much more expensive privatized solution.
Charter schools are like bottled water--they're believed to be superior, and their standards are less stringent that their more public counterparts. (Yes, I know that charter schools are part of the public school systems, but they are not public in the sense that they equally accept all students. This difference matters.)
Dean Putney took the photos of the Long Range Acoustic Device (LRAD) used in the Pittsburgh G20 protest. He says:
My roommate and I went to check things out downtown to see how the riot was coming along. We stopped here along with the news crews and a few spectators to watch. Police came in off of city buses in groups of about 50 or so and down the street (in the UPitt campus) they were setting off smoke grenades, tear gas and using the LRAD. The police warned protestors to leave multiple times over the loudspeaker before and during their use of force.
Shortly after we arrived that one girl threw her bicycle at an officer. My roommate and I are in the news footage of that. We stuck around for a while afterwards, watched these trucks and the SWAT team vans go by, collected a couple of the smoke grenade cartridges and went home. The cartridges are pretty cool, 40mm rounds. Each one costs about $25, and there were at least a dozen of them on the street where we were.
Lady Ada and Phil Torrone made a $250 working replica of the Dazzler, a $1 million non-lethal puke flashlight developed at the request of the US Dept. of Homeland Security. The link below includes complete instructions for making one of your own.
Bassam Tariq is a Boing Boing guestblogger who is the co-author of 30 Mosques. A blog that celebrated the NYC mosques during the Islamic month of Ramadan. He lives in Harlem, NY.
I do a lot of random YouTube video searching at work and somehow found this little commercial. Turns out there's a whole bunch of characters in this "Poo-verse." Dookie-Poo has a best friend, an uncle and a nephew. There is also this grumpy dog, Skooch the Pooch, that moved from NYC to Pooville. Here's a little bio of Dookie-Poo off the site -
Dookie-Poo is not the smartest of all the Poos in Pooville but he tries real hard and he has good intentions. Dookie never quits because he's just too dumb to do so. He tries way beyond the point of all reasoning. Dookie doesn't think much about anything. In fact he almost never thinks at all.
I am tempted to throw some turd puns, but will resist. For more fecal-toon fun check out: www.dookie-poo.com
This could have been a deleted scene from Children of Men.
US security forces turned the piercing sound on their own citizens yesterday to widespread outrage. Pittsburgh officials told the New York Times that it was the first time "sound cannon" had been used publicly.
Thanks to Amy Crehore for pointing me to this video of Lonnie Johnson performing "Another Night to Cry" in 1963. Also, Amy is giving away one of her paintings to whoever comes up with the best title for it!
Vermillion County Prosecutor Nina Alexander is proud to be "enforcing the law as it was written" by prosecuting Sally Harpold, a grandmother who bought two boxes of cold medication in less than a week. Alexander admits she knows Harpold had no intention of making meth with the medicine. That's beside the point. "The public has the responsibility to know what is legal and what is not, and ignorance of the law is no excuse," she Alexander.
Vigo County Sheriff Jon Marvel got his chance to show off a rock-solid understanding of cause-and-effect, too:
“I feel for her, but if she could go to one of the area hospitals and see a baby born to a meth-addicted mother …”
Scientists in China have discovered the oldest dinosaur that had feathers. Thought to be between 1 to 11 million years older than the first known bird, the dinosaur, named Anchiornis huxley, was about 28 centimeters tall at its hip. From Science News:
Two types of feather adorn the creature, said (Xing) Xu, of the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology in Beijing. One kind, commonly referred to as “dino-fuzz,” resembles a frayed bundle of filaments. The other type, similar in overall structure to the feathers of modern-day birds, consists of small filaments that branch from a larger shaftlike filament.
The dino-fuzz decorates the creature’s head and neck. About two dozen of the shafted feathers adorn each forelimb, and a similar number embellish each lower leg and foot, the researchers report. Unlike most feathered dinosaurs described previously, which have the longest forelimb feathers near the tip of the limb, Anchiornis’ longest forelimb feathers are on the wrist, Xu said. Feathers on the legs and feet appear to have overlapped each other, creating aerodynamic surfaces that would have, in essence, given Anchiornis a wing on each of its four limbs
When discussing the occult, a natural question arises: Just what is the occult? In short, the occult encompasses a wide range of mystical philosophies and mythical lore, particularly the belief in an "unseen world" whose forces act upon us and through us. Here is a piece of my introduction to Occult America that expands on that question....
Occultism describes a tradition--religious, literary, and intellectual--that has existed throughout Western history. The term comes from the Latin occultus, meaning "hidden" or "secret." The word occult entered modern use through the work of Renaissance scholar Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa, who used it to describe magical practices and veiled spiritual philosophies in his three-volume study, De occulta philosophia, in 1533. The Oxford English Dictionary cites the first instance of the word occult twelve years later.
Traditionally, occultism deals with the inner aspect of religions: the mystical doorways of realization and secret ways of knowing. Classical occultism regards itself as an initiatory spiritual tradition. Seen from that perspective, the occultist is not necessarily born with unusual abilities, like soothsaying or mind reading, but trains for them.
I'm delighted to welcome Mitch Horowitz as a guestblogger on Boing Boing. Mitch is a fantastic tour guide to the fringes of reason, high weirdness, deep esoterica, secret societies, and mystery religions. Mitch's fantastic new book Occult America: The Secret History of How Mysticism Shaped Our Nation shares a "sacred space" on my bookshelf with works by Manly Hall, Robert Anton Wilson, Charles Fort, Jacques Vallee, and Erik Davis. In fact, Mitch, who is also a book editor/publisher, has revived essential classics by several of those folks. The next two weeks should be quite a trip. Mitch writes:
Glad to be here with you for a couple of weeks. I’m the author of the just-published Occult America: The Secret History of How Mysticism Shaped Our Nation (Bantam) – it tells the long-overdue story of how esoteric movements and personalities have shaped America’s past and present. I’m also the editor-in-chief of Tarcher/Penguin in New York, where I publish metaphysical books by people like David Lynch, Jacques Vallee, Daniel Pinchbeck, and Jacob Needleman.
In all of my work, I try to convey a sense of how occult and mystery religions (things that are very important in my life) are every bit a part of “normal” religious history and, in fact, are the well-spring for most of today’s self-help philosophies, from mental-healing to meditation to motivational thinking.
I write for a variety of subculture magazines (Science of Mind, Atlantis Rising, Fortean Times, New Dawn), arts and ideas journals (Esopus, Parabola), and appear on mainstream forums (The Montel Williams Show, The History Channel, Air America) to explore arcane ideas in a way that doesn’t seem so…scary, alien, or faraway. It’s not. I’ll expand in the coming days.
John Muir, Sierra Club founder and Yosemite savior featured in the new Ken Burns docoumentary, was a fantastically creative maker too! The Sierra Club has posted details about several of his inventions, including an alarm clock that knocks the leg out from under the bed, and his mechanical study desk, pictured above, that "would automatically light his lamp and fire, open the right book to study, and then change books after half an hour." "Was John Muir a Mad Scientist?"(Thanks, Orli Cotel!)
Uh-oh. Now that a terrorist has tried unsuccessfully to blow up a Saudi prince with a bomb shoved up his ass, the TSA is obliged to perform rectal exams on every flier for the rest of time. After all, once a jihadi failed to blow up a plane with his shoe, we all needed to start taking our shoes off. Then some knuckleheads believed they could blow up a plane with energy beverages and hair gel, so now we have to limit ourselves to 100ml of all liquids and gels, unless they're for babies or are prescription (because no mass-murderer would be so evil as to forge a doctor's note, which, as every junkie knows, cannot possibly be forged).
Now we found someone who was made to believe he could kill people with an asshole bomb, and so it follows that the TSA will have to ban -- or at least inspect -- our assholes. They're like opinions, you know, everybody's got one. Except, of course, most of us got to keep our assholes to ourselves. Not anymore.
Let's just be thankful that no one has yet convinced a suicidal murderer that he could blow up a plane with his mind, because once that happens, we're all in for mandatory airport trepannations. Because, you know, you can't be too safe. Every little bit helps. If an unhinged suicide bomber believes it's possible, we must take it seriously. To do less would be irresponsible.
For years, I have made the joke about Richard Reid: "Just be glad that he wasn't the underwear bomber." Now, sadly, we have an example of one.
Lewis Page, an "improvised-device disposal operator tasked in support of the UK mainland police from 2001-2004," pointed out that this isn't much of a threat for three reasons: 1) you can't stuff a lot of explosives into a body cavity, 2) detonation is, um, problematic, and 3) the human body can stifle an explosion pretty effectively (think of someone throwing himself on a grenade to save his friends).
Jérémie Zimmermann sez, "The first conciliation meeting on the Telecoms Package will take place tonight at 9:30PM. In this meeting, 27 Members of the European Parliament will decide on the future of Internet in Europe. They will choose whether to fix or maintain the dreadful anti-Net neutrality dispositions voted in second reading by the Parliament, under the influence of AT&T. Rapporteurs and representatives of the Swedish Presidency opposed this idea so far. European citizens only have a few hours to urge MEPs to preserve Europe's innovation, competition, and citizen's fundamental rights."